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Jay Haley was born on July 19, 1923 in Midwest, Wyoming. He was raised in California and entered the army after he graduated from high school. After serving in World War II, Haley returned home to attend UCLA. He studied theater and earned his BA from UCLA, jumping into the career of a struggling playwright. He later attended Stanford and earned a Masters in Communications. While there, Haley was befriended by Gregory Bateson, an anthropologist. His friend enlisted him to be part of a unique project that would be the beginning of Haley’s foray into family therapy. This project, known as the Bateson Project, was the source of one of the most influential pieces of literature ever written on the topic of family therapy, Towards a Theory of Schizophrenia.
Haley worked for many years studying psychotherapy and observing many leaders in his field, including Frieda Fromm-Reichmann and Milton Erickson. With over a decade of experience in family therapy, Haley and his wife Elizabeth founded "Family Process," a journal dedicated to family therapy. In addition to editing the journal, Haley helped Milton Erickson gain recognition in the professional world with the book Uncommon Therapy. After working at the Mental Research Institute in California, Haley moved to the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.
Haley eventually found himself in Washington DC, and with the help of his second wife, founded the Family Therapy Institute of Washington DC. He continued to study and teach Strategic Family Therapy, an approach that he was integral in developing. During his time at the institute, Haley published several books, including one of the most ground-breaking books in the realm of family therapy, Problem Solving Therapy. Haley left the institute and spent the remainder of his academic career in California with his third wife. He created several films that focused on psychotherapy and maintained his alliance with the professional world as a Scholar in Residence at the California School of Professional Psychology
Contribution to Psychology
Jay Haley was a developer of Strategic Therapy--a specific approach to therapy in which the therapist takes the lead in orchestrating the course of treatment. Rather than a client and therapist working collaboratively to design a map for treatment, strategic therapy relies on the therapist to act as the facilitator and director of the session. The therapist is responsible for influencing the direction of the treatment and for creating the approach to be taken for each situation to be addressed.
Books by Jay Haley